November 30, 2022

The Fiji Times » FEO takes political party to FICAC for ‘breaking the law’

The Fiji Elections Office (FEO) has reported the Liberal Social Democratic Party (SODELPA) to the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICCA) for breaching the provisions of the Elections Act.

A statement released yesterday by FEO said they found SODELPA in violation of Article 116 of the Electoral Law in that they did not “immediately” publish the sources of funding for their proposed initiatives under of the party’s campaign for the 2022 general election.

Section 116(4C) of the Act states that “Any person representing or acting under the direction of the political party or candidate makes a financial commitment, whether orally or in writing, a written explanation must forthwith be provided”.

According to the law, the written explanation must explain how the revenue for the financial commitment must be collected, how the expenditure must be made, how the expenditure must be allocated to the different budget sectors and agencies and how the deficit must be financed if the expenses exceed income.

“Despite releasing most of its campaign pledges as early as April 30, 2022, SODELPA has not specified how it will fund the pledges to date,” election supervisor Mohammed Saneem said.

He said he had now exercised the powers under Section 116(4)(a) and ordered SODELPA to remove said campaign material by 7 p.m. on June 24, 2022.

Mr Saneem added that “the law requires the political party to do so immediately”.

Responding to questions from the Fiji Times, SODELPA party leader Viliame Gavoka said he would follow the directive.

“We will follow the directive, no matter how unreasonable,” he said.

“We asked the competent authority to check our manifesto, but we were told nothing.

“Now we are being told that FICAC is blowing our necks. It is unprecedented and depressing when we try to engage in politics in the exercise of our democratic rights.